Army to toughen marksmanship qualification course, ditch Cold War-era standards

April 1, 2019

U.S. Army soldiers will soon have a harder time qualifying on the service’s M16 rifle and M4 carbine qualification courses.

Military officials are primed to ditch Cold War-era marksmanship standards for a faster paced and more mentally taxing alternative.

Sgt. 1st Class John Rowland, marksmanship program director at Fort Benning’s Infantry School, gave Military.com a rundown of the changing standards for an interview published Monday.

“What has changed specifically is, soldiers will change their magazines on their own,” he said. “In the past, it was kind of an administrative thing.”

There is no hard deadline for commanders to adopt the new requirements; they have one year to provide feedback to Fort Benning’s Infantry Center.

″[Soldiers will also] change positions on their own,” Sgt. 1st Class Rowland added. “We incorporated the use of cover and or external support to drive home that tactical mindset of, don’t be in the open when you have available cover around you, and incorporate things around you to stabilize your shot.”

Troops must hit a minimum of 23 targets out of 40 to earn a “Marksman” rating.

A “Sharpshooter” designation is award to those who shoot 30 to 35 targets, and “Expert” soldiers hit 36 to 40 targets with one caveat.

“In the past, soldiers did not have to engage, let alone hit, a 300-meter target to get an Expert rating,” Sgt. 1st Class Rowland Rowland said. “Now there are five exposures of 300-meter targets, so in order for a soldier to get an Expert rating, they must hit at least one 300-meter target. ... To get Sharpshooter, a soldier must hit at least one target that’s 250 meters or beyond.”